By Charles Offokaja
In the beginning, the maritime sector had virtually no opportunity for sector-wide networking. All there was to it was just business entities and associations doing business in a strictly formal setting, sometimes having misunderstandings and misconceptionsbut not having any opportunity to meet socially and informally outside their immediate business network habitats to socialise.
So it was difficult for say an association of freight forwarders to meet and network with members of the Nigeria Customs Service in order to foster mutual understanding and a culture of dialogue that would lead to closer integration of ideas to move the sector forward and sharpen advocacy.
The maritime sector is a humongous substrata of our economy, a melting pot consisting of government agencies like Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Navy, NIMASA, MAN Oron; associations like STOAN, NISA, SOAN, ANCLA, NAGAFF, SOAN, NITOA; private corporations like APM Terminals, Maersk Line, ENL Consortium, LADOL, Sifax, Micura Stevedoring Services, Fendercare Limited, OlisahAgbakoba Legal, just to mention but a few.
Prior to the advent of the Maritime Cup Competition, all these giants moved in their own spheres of influencebut lacked an industry-wide networking forum for socialization.And then Ships & Ports Communications Company, publishers of SHIPS AND PORTS DAILYnewspaper, introduced the Maritime Cup Completion.
The Maritime Cup was conceived as a forum where all stakeholders in the maritime sector could converge and socialize in an informal settingvia the instrument of sports. As football matches are played between employee-teams of maritime organisations, business deals are discussed, finalized and solutions to problems in the sector sought out and proffered.
And, through the years the competition has served that purpose in an ever growing capacity. Now maritime organizations see the benefits of featuring their teams in this competition, not just for the prestige of winning laurels but also for the sense of gentle rivalry and the fun it creates between employees in the sector.
Even organizations that don’t have teams playing in a given year come with delegates and sometimes in regalia to show the flagand not get left out in the community spirit.
Having said that, the Maritime Cup is fast outgrowing its bounds as a niche competition and is gaining a lot f attention in the mainstream of society/ It is left to the organizers to decide if they want to confine it to the industry, or if it would be better for it to gain a mainstream flavour.
But it cannot be denied that the Maritime Cup fosters a certain ‘tribal feeling’ in the industry – youneed to attend one of the matches to more clearly understand it. Though, there have been other attempts to create a melting pot, Ships & Ports Communications Company Maritime Cup Competition series stands out and has stood the test of time, this year’s competition won by ANCLA being the 7th.
This is as a result of Ships & Ports’ unmatched experience in giving the community what they want; an opportunity to really network informally at a certain time of the year. The organizers diligently carry out this corporate social responsibility year after year,surprising teams with cash gifts and more – inspiring more and more sponsors to step forward and join in pushing forward this novel and noble sports festival.
Unlike before, when the event was new and unknown, maritime organizations are delighted to register their teams for the competition; companies, associations and agencies contact the organizer to see how they can come in as sponsors, and they have since become the pillars of what was once a unilateral initiative; employees train so that they can shine at the Maritime Cup (possibly score a beautiful goal or more); maritime organizations come to be seen and interact and gain connections; and both the stakeholders and the general public come to watch beautiful football.
The Maritime Cup really fosters goodwill and community within the sector in concrete ways.That is why maritime stakeholders love the Maritime Cup Competition and are so passionate about it.
At Ships & Ports Communication Company, we are proud of its tangible and intangible achievements and are confident that together with our sponsors and other partners, we will keep delivering a better experience each year to the maritime sector and also to the general public.